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Load "64 PowerPack Review",8,1

Classification: Word Processor, Spreadsheet, Database
Developer: Melody Hall Publishing Corp.
Publisher: Melody Hall Publishing Corp.
Year: 1988
Disk: PowerPack Side 1
PowerPack Side 2
PowerPack Commands Chart

64 PowerPack is an office productivity suite of software, for the C64, published by Melody Hall Publishing Corp. in 1988. The suite consisted of three business-type applications; PowerWord (word processor), PowerCalc (spreadsheet), and PowerFiler (database).

Melody Hall advertised PowerPack as an “integrated” suite of software, but I could not determine how this integration occurred, apart from the PowerPack main menu. When the main menu appears, the user can choose which of the three apps they wish to load.

For the most part, each of the apps covered the basics for what they were programmed to do. However, because of their limited functionality, I would not recommend PowerPack for commercial business use. Rather, I think it is more suited for the home office user. It's certainly less complicated than other office-type software for the C64, so it's much easier to learn and use for the home (or casual) user. Also, Melody Hall provides a few useful templates to help users begin writing letters and creating home budget spreadsheets.

PowerWord

PowerWord is the word process app for the 64 PowerPack suite. I consider it to be a simplified version of Paperclip, a word processor for the C64, created by Batteries Included.

Like Paperclip, PowerWord is a “command line” kind of word processor. Unlike a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) word processor, the formatting codes appear within the document and only apply when the document is printed.

Across the top of the screen is displayed the tab ruler, where the user can easily set and remove tab stops with the F6 key. Jumping between the tab stops is done by pressing F5. Just above the tab ruler is the location identifiers, which inform the user the page of the document they're on, as well as line number (of the page) and the character space of the line.

Documents can be formatted for pages up to 250 characters in width. Which leads me into one of the more interesting abilities of PowerWord: to easily change margins and line lengths, “on the fly” anywhere within the document.

For example, if I wanted to have one paragraph formatted to have a 10 space left-margin and a line length of 60 characters (on an 80 line page that would leave a 10 space right-margin), I would move the cursor to the first column (space) on a new line and type 10,60. On the next line below I would then type my paragraph.

If I want the next paragraph indented by another 10 characters, on the next line below I would type 20,50, then type the paragraph below. PowerWord allows you to go on and on like this, as much as you want without any difficulties.

When you document is printed, your paragraphs will be formatted to the margins and line lengths you've specified with the commands.

The most useful function, at least for me, that PowerWord can do - and does it quite well - is spell checking (or “proof reading” as PowerWord calls it). Pressing CTRL + P starts the proof reading process.

When launched, PowerWord first goes through the document in memory and indexes all of the words. It then references each word against a 25,000 word dictionary, stored on the floppy disk. As it comes across words it cannot find in the dictionary, it remembers them and, once all the words have been checked, it then asks the user what to do with the words it set aside. The user can either correct the spelling, skip it and leave it as-is, or cancel the process.

I was surprised to find this spell checking tool in PowerPack, even more-so to discover that it works quite well. It could be a slow process, however, if your document is a long one.

PowerCalc

PowerCalc is the spreadsheet app for the 64 PowerPack suite. It's a simplified spreadsheet app, but, like PowerWord, does the basics quite well. It supports basic math formulas (+, -, / , x) and can do range sums and averages. It can support a spreadsheet with a maximum of 54 rows and 53 columns.

PowerCalc also supports copy and pasting of cell ranges, using the cursor keys - rather than having to type in cell locations (as you do in MultiPlan). You can also adjust the column widths. What is missing, which I find odd, is the ability to format cell contents - for example: formatting values as dollars or percentages, etc. I would think this would be pretty standard functionality, but I can't seem to find how to do it in PowerCalc.

The commands that are supported by this spreadsheet are as follows:

  • F1 - Insert a row or column
  • F2 - Delete a row or column
  • F3 - Load, save, disk directory and print
  • F4 - Select screen and border colours
  • F5 - Copy and paste a range of cells
  • F6 - Clear cell contents
  • F7 - Recalculate formulas
  • F8 - Adjust column widths
  • SHIFT-Run/Stop - Exit to BASIC

PowerFiler

PowerFiler is the database app for the 64 PowerPack suite. It's a flat-file database that works by formatting a secondary data disk into a layout that you specify when you launch the app.

Configuring the database is pretty simple. When you start a new database, PowerFiler asks how many fields each record will contain. You can choose a number between 1 and 8. Once you do so, the disk in the disk drive is then formatted accordingly.

Once the data disk is ready (which takes a little while to complete), records can then be entered into the database. You can enter any sort of data into each of the fields, you don't have to specify what data (text, numbers or dates) goes into each field; just begin to enter your data. To finish your data entry sessions, simply press RETURN on a new entry in the first field.

PowerFiler offers some simple searching functionality as well as a “data analysis” tool. You can also print out data, which provides the label maker feature advertised by Melody Hall.

reviews/powerpack.txt · Last modified: 2018/11/11 03:03 by mastercontrol